Categories
Psalms

Psalm 55 Message

Psalm 55 Message
Explaining the Book of Psalms

 
 
00:00 / 43:03
 
1X
 

I think that we’ve all experience betrayal in our lives. And if we haven’t had any or even much, we can likely expect to face this kind of thing at some point in our lives.

In fact, if we haven’t had much betrayal in our lives then what that might indicate is that we really don’t let people get very close to us.

Because the reality is that betrayal is less likely the less we actually trust other people. If you keep yourself quarantined from other people and never have many interactions that might leave you vulnerable to them, then you will be pretty much immune to the painful reality of betrayal.

And yet, to live your life in such a way as to try to avoid betrayal at all costs and to live the hermit life is to be missing out on relational realities that God wants you and me to have in this life.

So, God does not want you and me to just avoid the potential of betrayal at the cost of never having serious interpersonal relationships. And so, if you’re involved in relationships as God has created us to be in, then you are very likely going to experience betrayal.

And you and I need to know how to handle that. Because betrayal is painful. No one gets into a relationship wanting to be betrayed! And yet it happens.

So, how should we handle betrayal?

Well, let’s turn our attention to Psalm 55.

Because in Psalm 55 we have the author – whom we’re told is David – and he’s working through betrayal.

David had been betrayed by a man who was very close to him. He reports in this psalm that the two of them had previously experienced sweet fellowship in the Lord’s house together with all of the rest of God’s people.

But now this man had turned on him and was actually getting together a mob to kill him.

And here’s what I want us to recognize as we go through this psalm. We might tend to look at David and his betrayal and think that this doesn’t apply to us. After all – we might think – I’m not being pursued by people wanting to kill me. Therefore, I’m not really sure how this psalm could be a help to me, personally.

I don’t want us to think that way. I think that we need to approach this in our minds like a greater-to-lesser situation. If David could cope with being chased by a murderous group of people due to his being betrayed by one of those people, then can’t you learn to deal with betrayal in a situation that’s maybe not quite as difficult and extreme as David’s?

And the answer to that is – yes. Of course we can learn from David’s praying to the Lord on this matter of being betrayed.

So, let’s read this psalm in its entirety to see how David dealt with betrayal.

{Read Psa 55:1-23}

Superscription

So, that’s a quick read-through of how David dealt with betrayal. Now, let’s get into the details.

We’re going to just read through the superscription once more without much comment, because it’s a fairly standardly-worded superscription.

<{To/For} the {chief Musician/choir director/music director/director of music}
{on/to be accompanied by/with} {Neginoth/stringed instruments},
{Maschil, A Psalm/A Maskil/a well-written song} {of/by} David.>

1-2 Call God’s Attention to the Problem

Now, the first thing that David does when faced with betrayal is that he draws God’s attention to this reality in verses 1 and 2.

KJV Psalm 55:1 {Give ear/Listen} to my prayer, O God;
{and hide not thyself from my supplication./And do not hide Yourself from my supplication./Do not ignore my appeal for mercy!/do not ignore my plea;/and disregard not my supplication.}

2 {Attend unto/Give heed to/Pay attention to} me, and {hear/answer} me:
{I mourn in my complaint,/I am restless in my complaint/I am so upset and distressed/My thoughts trouble me} {and make a noise/and am surely distracted/I am beside myself/and I am distraught};

This is so obvious that when we experience betrayal or any negative reality in our lives, you need to pray to the Lord about it. And yet, how often do we just sit and stew on it and never let God in on the fact that you are bothered about this?

Don’t do that! Call God’s attention to the betrayal and to your feelings about it. Did you know that God cares about how you feel about being betrayed?

David mentions his feelings here. Don’t think of him as the stoic warrior. The guy had emotions!

Look at it – he’s pleading for mercy – making supplication. He’s afraid that God has hidden himself – he feels abandoned by God. He is complaining and mourning. He’s restless and upset and troubled. He is distracted and distraught and noisy in his soul.

Admit these things in your life to the Lord when you are betrayed.

So, when you’re betrayed you need to call God’s attention to the problem.

3 Identify the Problem

And second, you need to spell out what the problem really is like David does in verse 3.

3 {Because of/At} {the voice of the enemy/what the enemy says},
{because of/at} {the oppression of the wicked/the pressure of the wicked/how the wicked pressure me/stares of the wicked}:

for they {cast iniquity/bring down trouble/hurl down trouble/bring down suffering} upon me,
and {in wrath they hate/in anger they bear a grudge against/angrily attack/revile in their anger} me.

So, in verses 1 and 2 David just calls out to God noting that there is a problem. But in verse 3 now he goes on to identify more specifically the problem.

He’s really identifying the results of being betrayed. And those results include being spoken poorly of – the “voice of the enemy.” The results include oppression by these wicked men. They include these men bringing all sorts of trouble and hateful anger into David’s life.

So, betrayal often has serious consequences in your life. And God wants to hear about them. He wants you to talk to him about them.

So, make the problem and its consequences very clear to the Lord as you pray about your being betrayed by someone else.

4-5 Confess the Effects on You

And in verse 3 David focuses on the action of his enemies. They speak. They oppress. They cast iniquity. They hate.

But now in verses 4 and 5 David’s focus is on his own response to these realities. So, yes, call the Lord’s attention to the results of betrayal in your life in terms of how others are now treating you.

But then call the Lord’s attention to how you are responding to this treatment in your life, like David does in verses 4 and 5.

4 My heart {is sore pained/is in anguish/beats violently} within me:
and the {terrors/horrors} of death {are fallen upon/have fallen upon/overcome/assail} me.

5 {Fearfulness/Fear} and {trembling/panic} {are come upon/come upon/overpower/have beset} me,
and {horror/terror} {hath overwhelmed/overwhelms} me.

You know, I don’t know about you, but I find comfort in the fact that this brave noble warrior king David is speaking to God as if he’s as weak as a little child. You and I – all of us – have felt these ways sometimes. And we might be tempted to think that we’re being overly weak. But the reality is this is how humans are. We are weak. And we need God’s strength.

So, David mentions his heart being in anguish. He is terrified. He is full of fear. And he’s overwhelmed by terror.

And it doesn’t have to be betrayal that prompts these responses in our life. In fact, for David these responses were the byproduct of betrayal – someone betrayed David and so now he is fearful of being killed. It’s death that he is responding to now – the betrayal just started that and the remembrance of it makes it all worse for him.

But you might be feeling this way about something completely different. And that’s OK.

But as we experience betrayal and/or whatever else stems from that kind of rupture in a relationship, we need to call God’s attention to how we feel about it. He wants to hear from you on this matter.

6-8 Admit to Wanting to Flee

Now, when you are just overwhelmed by a trial in your life – when you are just hemmed-in on every side and you are so miserable and you just see no way out, what is a really common response? You can’t humanly fix this problem. What is your tendency?

I think that for a lot of us, when we are dealing with insurmountable issues, we want to flee. We want to get out of there!

And that’s exactly how David speaks to the Lord in verses 6-8. He confesses to wanting to leave it all and just run away!

6 {And I/I} {said/say},

{Oh that/I wish} I had {wings/the wings} {like/of} a dove!
{for then would I/I would} fly away, and {be at rest/settle in a safe place}.

7 {Lo/Behold/Look}, {then would I/I would/I will} {wander/escape/flee} {far off/far away/to a distant place},
{and remain/I would lodge/I will stay/and stay} in the {wilderness/desert}.

{Selah/Pause}.

8 I {would/will} {hasten/hasten to/hurry off to} {my escape/my place of refuge/a place that is safe/my place of shelter}
{from/far from} the {windy storm/strong wind} and {tempest/the gale}.

Look at how long David labors on these thoughts! If you were trying to minister to someone who was in some emotionally-wrenching trial and he were to keep going on and on about wanting to escape and to get away from it all and to just find refuge in some safe place – how would you respond to that? Would you be embarrassed for him? Would you be kind of judgmental and thinking that this guy needs to get his act together? Would you start to question his maturity and maybe even his salvation?

The results of David’s awful trials that had been kicked-off by betrayal were bringing him to the point where he was seriously contemplating just running away.

And so, when you feel this way, there is nothing at all wrong with admitting this to the Lord. You might not want to admit it to others – especially if you’re trying to encourage them to keep going in the same trial that you’re facing. But you do need to tell the Lord about it.

9-11 Demand that God Frustrate Their Plans

But we all know in our heart of hearts that fleeing isn’t really the ultimate solution to any of our problems. It might be necessary to keep you alive! But it doesn’t solve any deep issues.

And that’s why when we’re betrayed by others and especially when this results in us wanting to run away, we need to humbly demand to the Lord that he frustrate the plans of those who have made themselves our enemies – like David did in verses 9-11.

9 {Destroy/Confuse/Confuse them/Confuse the wicked}, O Lord,
{and divide their tongues/frustrate their plans/confound their speech}:

for I {have seen/see} violence and {strife/conflict} in the city.

10 Day and night they {go about/go around/walk around/prowl about} {it upon the walls thereof/upon her walls/on its walls}:
{mischief also/And iniquity/while wickedness/malice} and {sorrow/mischief/destruction/abuse} are {in the midst of it/in her midst/within it}.

11 {Wickedness/Destruction/Disaster/Destructive forces} {is/are/are at work} {in the midst thereof/in her midst/within it/in the city}:
{deceit/oppression/violence/threats} and {guile/deceit/lies} {depart not/do not depart} from {her streets/its public squares}.

So, in David’s case really only the first part of verse 9 is him demanding that God frustrate the plans of his enemies.

The rest of verse 9 and then verses 10 and 11 are all him personifying vices and speaking of them taking up residence in the city of Jerusalem. In David’s mind, it’s as if Commander Violence and Lieutenant Strife are walking around on the city walls. Sergeant Mischief and Colonel Sorrow are in the midst of the city. Corporeal Wickedness is also there. Major Deceit and Private Guile don’t leave that city – as the literal men in this city are seeking to destroy David.

So, these people who are attacking David – they were apparently fueled by an initial betrayal from one man against David and now they’re all involved in attacking him.

And so, just like at the Tower of Babel where all sorts of people got together to thwart God’s plans and God confused their language to thwart them, so too now David is asking the Lord to confuse the plans of these people who are against him.

And that’s what you want when folks are against you. You want the Lord himself to protect you. And one way he can do this is by stirring your enemies up against each other. Then they stop attacking you!

So, do feel free to demand that God frustrate the plans of those who are opposed to you for no good reason.

12-14 When Your Enemy Used to be Your Friend

And then something really interesting happens in this psalm. And it’s where we finally come to understand that David was betrayed by one of his close friends. And what’s very interesting is that we see David do something that’s fairly unusual in the book of Psalms. Remember that Psalms are really just prayers. And when we pray, we’re typically speaking to whom? We’re speaking to the Lord.

But in verses 12-14, David is certainly still praying to the Lord. But we actually see him turn aside as it were and directly address the person who betrayed him and who was the human agent responsible for all his troubles.

And so, it’s an interesting lesson in prayer to know that one acceptable activity in prayer is to directly address – at least in your own heart – the one whom you believe to be responsible for your troubles. That’s what David does in verses 12-14.

12 {For/Indeed} it {was/is} not an enemy {that reproached/who reproaches/who insults} me;
{then/or else} I could {have borne/bear/endure} it:

{neither was it he that hated/nor is it one who hates/it is not one who hates} me {that did magnify himself against/who has exalted himself against/who arrogantly taunts} me;
{then/or else} I {would/could} {have hid/hide} myself from him:

13 But it {was/is} thou, a man {mine equal/like me/like myself},
my {guide/companion/close friend}, {and mine acquaintance/and my familiar friend/in whom I confided}.

14 {We took/With whom I once enjoyed} {sweet counsel/sweet fellowship/personal thoughts} {together/with each other},
and walked {unto/in/at} {the house of God/God’s temple} {in company/in the throng/among the crowd/with the throng}.

So, all of these troubles were kicked-off by the betrayal of this one man – David’s former friend.

And no doubt as you’ve experienced betrayal in this life you’ve felt similarly to what David expresses – when enemies attack you, that’s one thing. You’re ready for that because that’s what you expect from them. You still don’t like their treatment – but it’s easier to handle.

But when a friend does you wrong – you’re not expecting it at all. And for that reason, people might almost act surprised that you’re taking things so personally and poorly.

I remember one case of betrayal in my life in which someone whom I looked at previously as something of a fatherly type ended up intentionally humiliating me publicly. And the response of this man’s son was something like, “Boy, if people treated me at work the way that my dad treated you, I would let them pay me less!” His point was that the way his father treated me was not as bad as the way he was treated by his coworkers. The only problem with that logic is that his father claimed to be a Christian and his coworkers didn’t. Betrayal by supposed believers is very painful – it’s much harder to deal with than ill-treatment at the hands of people who are self-avowed atheists.

So, David does here – and you and I can – speak to our betrayer as if he were listening – as we’re praying to the Lord about being betrayed.

15-17 Contrast Deserved Treatment & Result

Now, David next contrasts the kind of treatment he deserves versus what this betrayer and his buddies deserve in verses 15-17.

15 {Let/May} death {seize upon/come deceitfully upon/destroy/take by surprise} {them/my enemy},
{and let them/may they} go down {quick/alive} {into/to} {hell/Sheol/the grave}:

for {wickedness/evil} is in their {dwellings/dwelling},
{and among them/in their midst}.

16 {As for me, I/But I} {will call/shall call/call} {upon/out to} God;
and the LORD {shall/will} {save/deliver} me.

17 {i.e., During the…} Evening, and morning, and {at noon/noontime/noon}, {will I/I will/I} {pray, and cry aloud/complain and murmur/lament and moan/cry out in distress}:
and he {shall/will} hear {my voice/me}.

So, look at these two groups.

On the one hand we have David. What’s he doing? He’s praying calling out to God frequently. And on the other hand, we have the enemies. They have wickedness dwelling among them.

And how should they be treated? David is confident that God will deliver him from these men. And on the other hand, he prays to God that he would cause these enemies to not be able to kill him – but that rather the Lord would turn it right around on them and that they would be the ones to die instead of him.

And we can appeal to God like this. We can contrast our behavior with the behavior of those who deal treacherously with us and if we’re blameless in this regard we can ask that the Lord would turn the metaphorical weapons of the enemies back on themselves.

18-19a Express Confidence in God

And then at that point you’ll want to express your confidence in the Lord like David does in verses 18 and 19.

18 He {hath delivered/will redeem/will rescue/ransoms} {my soul/me} {in peace/and protect me/unharmed} from {the battle that was against/those who attack} me:
{for there were many with/For they are many who strive with/even though they greatly outnumber/even though many oppose} me.

19 God {shall/will} hear, and {afflict/answer/humiliate} them,
{even he that abideth of old./Even the one who sits enthroned from of old–/ the one who has reigned as king from long ago,/who is enthroned forever/even he that has existed from eternity.}

Selah.

This is always an important piece that we tend to leave out. We can complain so bitterly and go through all of the other steps in prayer. But we often struggle to express confidence in the Lord’s help – as if the Lord won’t help. Where’s our faith?! Don’t forget to assure the Lord of your confidence in him as you pray concerning betrayal or whatever else is bothering you so much.

19b-21 Note Enemy’s Wickedness

And you might think that expressing confidence and faith in the Lord will just kind of settle you permanently. But sometimes it will actually throw you back into convulsions as you recall your problem and want to elaborate on it to the Lord, as David does in the rest of verse 19 and verses 20 and 21.

{Because they have no changes,/With whom there is no change,/They refuse to change,/men who never change their ways}
{therefore they fear not God./And who do not fear God./and do not fear God./and have no fear of God.}

20 {He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him:/My companion attacks his friends;}
he {hath broken/has violated/breaks} his {covenant/solemn promises to them}.

21 {The words of his mouth/His speech/His words} {were/was/are} {smoother than/as smooth as} butter,
{but/yet} {war was/he harbors animosity} in his heart:

his words {were softer/seem softer/are more soothing} than oil,
{yet/but} {were they drawn/they are really like sharp} swords.

And so, we can tend to go back into the details of our problems even after expressing confidence in the Lord’s willingness and desire to help us. And that’s OK – David did it and you don’t have to be discouraged when you do this.

22-23 Encourage Yourself and Others to Trust God

But eventually we need to come to the point that David does in verses 22 and 23 where he encourages both himself and others to trust the Lord.

22 {Cast/Throw} {thy burden/your cares} upon the LORD,
and he shall sustain thee:
he {shall never suffer/will never allow/will never let} the {righteous/godly} {to be moved/to be shaken/to be upended/fall}.

23 But {thou/you}, O God, shalt bring {them/the wicked} down {into/to} the {pit of destruction/deep Pit/pit of corruption}:
{bloody and deceitful men/Men of bloodshed and deceit/Violent and deceitful people/bloodthirsty and deceitful men} {shall/will} not live {out/even} half {their days/a normal lifespan};
{but/But as for me} I {will trust/trust} in {thee/you}.

So, as you and I struggle with the reality of being betrayed by people that we trust in this life, let’s remember the resources that we have in Psalm 55 and emulate the steps that David takes in dealing with the betrayal in his life. In this way, I trust that the Lord will be pleased to help us deal with the awful reality of betrayal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.